Barbie Cake + Meringue Girls Book Giveaway!

Barbie Cake via Sweetapolita

Hello, my friends!

So there’s a series of words I never imagined using in the same sentence: chocolate, beet, cake, meringue, and Barbie! But yes. Oh yes. Now it just seems perfectly natural–necessary even–to combine them all.

As a child of the 70s, I’m no stranger to doll cakes, but I have never had the joy of making one, particularly one of this magnitude. That was until I came across the recipe in a new baking book I absolutely adore: Meringue Girls: Incredible Sweets Everybody Cake Make by Alex Hoffler and Stacey O’Gorman. What a visual delight! I’ve always been a meringue enthusiast, but I have to say that these girls have taken meringues, and all things meringue, to an entirely new level.

Meringue Girls Cookbook

So if the cover doesn’t have you giddy, the recipes and images throughout the book are sure to. And while the cover of a cookbook can sometimes be a little misleading, in this case the entire book lives up to the awesome package: it’s filled to the brim with unique, vibrant, and easy to follow meringue recipes and useful techniques for foolproof meringue (we’ve all had our fair share of meringue mishaps, no?). As you probably know, I’m a meringue enthusiast, but even for those of you who haven’t ventured too far down meringue lane, I have a feeling this book will inspire you more than you might expect.

The “Meringue Girls” take us through the basics first–making the perfect batch of meringue every time, countless flavouring ideas (think Hot Cross Bun, Manuka Honey, Lavender, and more), and super-awesome colouring techniques, like “striping,” as I did here with the Barbie Cake meringue “kisses,” as they call them. They then delight us through different chapters of unexpected and irresistible meringue recipes, such as the cutest rainbow cake in the universe–the Meringue Rainbow Cake, the decadent Ferrero Rocher Meringue Tower, the unbelievably tempting Honeycomb, Chocolate, Salted Peanut Meringues (um, hello!), and so much more. Can you tell I’m totally smitten with this book?

Meringue via Sweetapolita

So I went for it. I embarked upon the intriguing Chocolate and Beet Barbie Cake. I mean, how could I not? The colours, the quirkiness, the nostalgia, oh my! Sure, it did seem like a bit of an undertaking but, well, I’ve been known to frolic with such recipes before, right? And I love a challenge. But in the end, it was more joy than challenge. I had so much fun creating this cake–for obvious reasons–but I think the best part about it was that it was like nothing I’ve ever done, or seen, before. I love that. I had to give it a whirl! (And as a mom of two little girly cakelets, I’d never be forgiven if I didn’t choose this recipe to start.)

Meringues via Sweetapolita

So this Barbie and meringue extravaganza is essentially two layers of a very rich chocolate and beet cake–one baked in a regular flat round cake pan, and the other “layer” baked in a rounded bowl (you could also use a contour cake pan if you have it), and then filled and frosted with a luscious whipped cream and cream cheese icing, and then decorated with a rainbow of stripy meringue kisses that literally melt in your mouth–one of the reasons I can’t get enough baked meringue of any kind. Oh, and of course we can’t forget that Barbie is perched upon this delightful “skirt” for everyone to admire. So fun!

Barbie Cake via Sweetapolita

See, even Barbie says “ta-da!” She’s impressed with the fanciful candy-coloured skirt I made her. (That was only after she forgave me for, um, cutting off her legs . . . ouch!). I was searching for more of a retro Barbie, but I was pleased with her blue and purple bodice so I went for her, even though she’s more of a circa 1999 variety. It was, however, sometime around the moment I was styling her hair for this cake that I realized that I am officially never allowed to complain about my job. Let’s just say no two days are the same.

Barbie Cake via Sweetapolita

Needless to say, the cake was so visually pleasing and incredibly decadent. I absolutely love the whipped cream and cream cheese icing–light as air, but with a rich and creamy texture and tang that only cream cheese brings. It paired nicely with the intensity of the chocolate cake and sweetness of the meringues. This is one of those cakes that pleases adults just as much as kids, I’m sure, which makes it a perfect party cake for anyone. ♥

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, I’m thrilled to giveaway 3 copies of this gorgeous and unique book, Meringue Girls: Incredible Sweets Everybody Cake Make, courtesy of the folks at Chronicle Books!

Here’s the recipe for this whimsical cake!

Chocolate and Beet Barbie Cake + Meringue Girls Giveaway

Ingredients

  • For the Meringue Girls Mixture (for the meringue kisses):
  • 300 g (1 1/2 cups) superfine sugar
  • 150 g egg whites (from about 5 eggs)
  • For the Cake:
  • 1 2/3 cups vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
  • 2 3/4 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups (450 g) superfine sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (150 g) good-quality dark cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 lb cooked and peeled beets
  • 6 eggs
  • For the Icing:
  • 1 1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 cups (400 g) cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup (25 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 Barbie doll (clothes and legs removed)
  • Barbie accessories

Instructions

  1. For the meringue (for the meringue kisses):
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, pour in the sugar, and put the baking sheet in the oven for about 5 minutes, until the edges of the sugar are just beginning to melt. Heating the sugar will help it dissolve in the egg whites more quickly and help create a glossy, stable mixture.
  4. Meanwhile, make sure the bowl and whisk attachment of your stand mixer are free from grease. Pour the egg whites into the bowl. Whisk on low speed at first, allowing small bubbles to form, then increase the speed to high and continue whisking until the egg whites form stiff peaks and the bowl can be tipped upside down without the whites falling out. Stop whisking just before the whites take on a cotton-woolly appearance; if they do, they have been over whisked, and the egg protein has lost some of its elasticity.
  5. By now, the sugar should be ready to take out of the oven.
  6. With the whites stiff and while whisking again at high speed, add one big tablespoonful of hot sugar after another to the bowl ensuring that the whites come back up to stiff peaks after each addition. Don't worry about small clumps of sugar, but avoid adding large chunks of caramelized sugar from the edges of the baking sheet.
  7. Once you have added the sugar, continue to whisk on high speed for 5 to 7 minutes. Rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers, and if you can still feel gritty sugar, keeping whisking at high speed until the sugar has dissolved, the mixture is smooth, and the bowl is a bit cooler to the touch. The meringue will continue to thicken up during this stage. You know it is ready to use when it forms a nice smooth, shiny peak on the tip of your upturned finger.
  8. To make striped mini meringue kisses:
  9. Divide the meringue mixture into six portions. Form each portion into mini striped kisses in the color of your choice. (It's fine to pipe more than one color onto a single baking sheet.) Turn a large disposable piping bag with a 3/4 inch opening, or a reusable one, inside out. Invert the bag over a jug or bottle so that it holds itself up. Using natural food coloring and a clean paintbrush, paint wide stripes from the tip of your piping bag to halfway down (about five stripes). Roll the bag so the painted side is inside, folding the edges over to make a sturdy vessel.
  10. Carefully spoon your meringue mixture into the piping bag, rolling the sides up. you need to pack the meringue in tightly, ensure there are no air bubbles. Pinch the top of the bag closed, gently pushing the mixture in.
  11. If using a disposable piping bag, with sharp scissors, but the tip of the bag so that the opening measures 3/4 inch in diameter.
  12. To the get the meringue mixture flowing, twist the top of the piping bag to push the meringue to the bottom. Pipe small dollops onto the four corners of your baking sheets (if you are using a full batch of Meringue Girls Mixture, you will need a couple of baking sheets). Line the baking sheets with parchment paper; the meringue dollops with act as a glue and stick the paper to the sheets.
  13. Piping the mini meringue kisses:
  14. Hold the piping bag vertically with both hands, securing the twisted top with your dominant hand and placing your other hand halfway down the bag. Use the top hand to apply pressure and the lower hand to control the flow of the meringue. Squeeze the bag to form a kiss with a 1-inch base, and then lift the bag up while releasing some pressure so that the meringue forms a peak at the top. Space the kisses about 3/4 inch apart.
  15. Position racks in the upper and lower third of the oven. Slide the baking sheets into the oven Bake for 20 minutes, or until they can be lifted off the parchment paper with their bases intact. Let cool completely on the baking sheets. Stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, the kisses will keep for up to 2 weeks.
  16. To make the cake:
  17. Turn up the oven temperature to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch springform pan and the line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease an 8-inch ovenproof bowl (about 10 inches deep) and line it with parchment paper.
  18. Sift the flour, superfine sugar, cocoa powder, and baking powder into a large bowl. Cut the beets into large chunks and add to a blender along with the eggs and oil. Puree until smooth. Pour the beet mixture into the dry ingredients and fold until combined.
  19. Pour one-half of the batter into the prepared springform pan and the remaining batter into the prepared bowl. Bake the cakes for 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cakes out of the pan and bowl onto a wire rack. Peel off the parchment and let cool completely.
  20. To make the icing:
  21. In a large bowl, whip the cream to stiff peaks, then add the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar. Continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth and stiff.
  22. Bling out your Barbie however you'd like--goth or glam, it's up to you.
  23. Set the flat cake layer (the one baked in the springform pan) on a cake platter. Spread with about 1 cup of icing in an even layer. Set the bowl-shaped cake on top, tapered-end up. Using a knife, trim the stacked cake to form a nice hoop-skirt shape.
  24. With a long, slender knife (such as a bread knife), cut a 2-inch deep hole in the center of the cake and insert Barbie to just below her waist. Spread the remaining icing over the cake, taking care to work around Barbie.
  25. Carefully place meringue kisses on the cake, arranging on color at a time in a row around Barbie, starting at her waist and working down. Press the kisses lightly into the icing so that they stick and form a beautiful, colorful meringue-kiss skirt.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

    • For my meringue colours, I used AmeriColor gel paste colours in Lemon Yellow, Teal, Soft Pink, Regal Purple, and Sky Blue. The recipe does call for “natural” food colouring, which I didn’t have, but you can certainly use those if you do. Because we use quite a bit to stripe the meringues, it would definitely be a great idea, but of course not crucial. You can make the meringues up to 2 weeks ahead, which is really helpful with a cake like this.
    • For the 8-inch flat cake layer, I used a standard 8 x 2-inch round cake pan, and it worked well!
    • Try to find a Barbie with plastic bodice, since having any article of clothing around the icing could get icky.
    • Have fun with this–it is like reliving childhood, but stylish and quirky. ♥

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Good luck & enjoy! 

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KitchenAid Mixer Giveaway + A Sweetapolita Book Update

Sweetapolita Giveaway Hi friends!

Just when I said that I was “back” on a regular basis, I got swooped up by another frenzy of book stuff, but I’m excited to report that I have done all of my final photos and most of the main edits, so this time I really am back!

I’m also excited to tell you that my book is scheduled to come out on April 7th, 2015! That does seem like quite some time away, but I just know it will be here in a blink. I can’t wait to reveal all of the sweets and treats and I’ve been working so hard on for the past 15 months. While I’ll keep the details a surprise, just know that, aside from tons of my favourite basic recipes for creating your own designs, this book of mine includes imaginative decorated cookies, layer cakes, tiered cakes, sweets for cakelets, and sprinkles galore!

In celebration of completing the book, I’m giving away this amazing KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer in “Ice”–one of my favourite colours in the universe. Hooray!

Sweetapolita Giveaway

Prettiest mixer ever. ♥

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Good luck, and I will be back next week with *the* most adorable cake from one of my favourite new cookbooks!

6-Layer Chocolate Sprinkle Cake + a Cookbook Announcement!

So . . . I have some news! As you may have guessed from the title of this post, I’m thrilled to share that I’ve just embarked upon writing my first Sweetapolita baking book!

I know this will be the most creatively rewarding journey of my life so far and, although writing a book is all new to me, I feel strangely comfortable — as though this is exactly where I was meant to be. It also makes a world of difference having such incredible support. Over the past many months, I’ve worked closely with my fabulous literary agent, Judy Linden of Stonesong Press, while creating my book proposal, and without her this would never have come to be. And I couldn’t be more honoured to be teaming with such an amazing editor, Ashley Phillips, from Clarkson Potter  and yet another amazing editor here in Canada, Robert McCullough, from Appetite by Random House of Canada – have you seen the incredible cookbooks they publish? Of course you have! Martha Stewart’s books, the Barefoot Contessa books and Rachael Ray’s books are just some examples of the incredibly inspiring books published by Clarkson Potter/Random House. Needless to say I’m in amazing hands.

As I worked on the outline for this book over the past year or more, I felt as though I going to bust from the urge to share the ideas with you on the blog. Somewhat torturous and exhilarating all at the same time! I tapped into the very essence of my heart and soul, and now it’s time to bring those ideas to life in the kitchen, through the lens and finally, in print. I simply can’t wait to share more details with you along the way. What a journey ahead!

Finally, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my sweets-loving heart for helping me make this happen. Your enthusiasm and support for this blog has inspired me to strive for creative heights I never imagined possible. And the truth is, I kind of love you guys. Like crazy.

And as any self-respecting baking junkie would do in a time of celebration and dreams-come-true, I made a super-sprinkly cake!

Sprinkle Cake via Sweetapolita

What is this sprinkle-crusted cakey-ness? It’s a 6-layer moist chocolate cake, filled with vanilla birthday cake whipped cream filling (we’ll get to that yumminess), covered in malted Belgian chocolate frosting, then covered with a medley of sprinkles and such. Inspired by one of my favourite cake recipes, the Campfire Delight Cake, I’ve been thinking a lot about 6-layer chocolate cakes covered in malted Belgian chocolate frosting — it’s just too awesome to not. But with all of that chocolate going on, 5 layers of vanilla birthday cake whipped cream filling push the party in this cake over the edge. So decadent!

You probably remember from this cake and this cake that I love whipped cream filling. I think it’s such a great starting point for a filling, and you can flavour it pretty much any way you like. It’s so light and airy, and because it’s not sweet or buttery, it’s the perfect filling for a rich cake frosted with a rich icing. So I just took that whipped cream filling and turned it into a vanilla birthday cake of sorts! With some white cake batter, pure vanilla and rainbow sprinkles that classic whipped cream filling just had 8 excitable little girls show up to the door with their party hats on.

sprinklecakeed

I thought it would be fun to make a huge sprinkle medley to decorate this cake, so I just grabbed a big bowl along with a bunch of jars of my favourite sprinkles and sugar pearls, and kept adding and shaking them up until I liked the way it looked. I decided to pipe a fancy border around the top, mostly because I love the consistency of that chocolate frosting, and I knew most of the cake surface would be covered with sprinkles.

Crunchy, creamy, cakey, fluffy, chocolaty. The border is just a twist on this piping technique, but with the 1M star tip, and rather than just piping one “shell” after the other in a straight single line around the top of the cake, I angled the first one toward the centre slightly, and then piped another right beside it, angling it toward the first — like a heart shape. Once you do this around the whole cake, it takes on a woven look of sorts. Really quite simple, but neat looking!

Sprinkles via Sweetapolita

And then I started daydreaming frolicking in a huge adult-size play area filled with 5 feet of this sprinkle medley. And then I had cake. And then I did a few jumps for joy! And then I got a cramp. But then I jumped for joy again!

I simply cannot wait to share more book details with you all. Stay tuned! In the meantime, please say you’ll make this cake to help me celebrate?

6-Layer Chocolate Sprinkle Cake

Yield: One 6-layer, 8-inch round cake

Serving Size: 8-10

6 layers of moist, dark chocolate cake filled with birthday cake whipped cream and sprinkles, covered in creamy, rich malted Belgian chocolate frosting and covered in a medley of more sprinkles.

Ingredients

    For the Chocolate Layer Cake:
  • 2-1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon (330 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups (600 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (135 g) Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder (or similar premium brand)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 g) baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (12 g) salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups (360 mL) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups (360 mL) strong black coffee, hot
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons (22.5 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Whipped Birthday Cake Filling:
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) cold water
  • 1 tablespoons (15 ml) unflavoured gelatin (such as Knox brand)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) whipping cream (35-37% fat), cold, divided
  • 1/2 cup (63 g) icing sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon (15 g) white cake mix
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting:
  • 1 lb butter (2 cups)(454 g), at room temperature
  • 4 cups (500 g) icing sugar (confectioners' or powdered), sifted
  • 3/4 cup (75 g) Ovaltine Classic (brown in colour)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 oz (250 g) quality Belgian chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) whipping (35% fat) cream
  • You will Also Need:
  • Sprinkles! Lots of them (about 2 cups), preferably a mix.

Instructions

    For the Chocolate Layer Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans (butter, line bottom with parchment paper, butter paper, dust with flour).
  2. In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients, including sugar. Combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork.
  3. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer). Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. (Batter will be thin.)
  4. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Continue to bake until toothpick or skewer comes almost clean (a few crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
  5. For the Whipped Birthday Cake Filling:
  6. In a small bowl, place the cold water and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring 1/3 cup of the cream just to a simmer, then stir into the gelatin mixture. Refrigerate, stirring frequently, until cool but not set, about 8 minutes.
  7. In a small bowl, sift together the icing sugar and cake mix.
  8. In a chilled stainless steel bowl with a chilled whisk attachment (for stand mixer), beat the remaining whipping cream, icing sugar/cake mix, vanilla and salt until it thickens just slightly and soft peaks begin to form, about 1 minute. Very gradually add the gelatin mixture and continue beating until medium-firm peaks form (should be thick enough to spread). Keep covered and chilled until ready to use.
  9. For the Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting:
  10. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar and butter and beat on low speed for about 1 minute.
  11. Add malt powder, vanilla and salt, and beat on low until well combined. Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes).
  12. Add whipping cream and beat on med-high speed for another minute.
  13. Mix and "work in" with rubber spatula right before applying to cake (to rid of air bubbles).
  14. Assembly of the 6-Layer Chocolate Sprinkle Cake:
  15. In a medium bowl or container, create a mixture of your favourite sprinkles: non-pareils, rainbow jimmies, chocolate sprinkles, pearls, etc. Set aside.
  16. On an 8-inch round cake board (or cake plate), put a small dollop of frosting. Cut your 3 cake layers each once horizontally with a long, serrated knife, so you have a total of 6 layers.
  17. Place your first layer face-up on the board (or plate) and cover with 1/5 of the Whipped Birthday Cake leaving about 1/2" around the edge and cover with a thin layer of your favourite sprinkle mix.
  18. Repeat until you come to your final layer, which you will place face-down. If you find the cake too soft and unstable, put in refrigerator for a few moments to firm it up, then resume.
  19. Using a turntable, if possible, frost entire outside of cake with a thin layer of Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting to seal in crumbs. Chill until firm. Repeat with another layer of frosting, this time working to get the frosting as smooth as possible. Place cake on a cookie sheet and carefully press your sprinkle mix onto sides, letting the excess fall down onto the cookie sheet. You can cover sides completely or leave 1/3 exposed (as in photo). Once you are pleased with your sprinkled sides, fill a medium or large pastry bag fitted with pastry tip 1M with the remaining frosting (about 2/3 full) and pipe border around the top of cake. Chill until firm.
  20. Take cake from fridge and cover the top with a layer of your sprinkle mixture, using a toothpick to push sprinkles in between piping. Once frosting softens again, the sprinkles will adhere to top.
  21. Serve cake at room temperature, but keep refrigerated if not serving the day it's made.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • For the chocolate cake, I used Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark.
  • For the malted Belgian chocolate frosting I used Callebaut Dark Callets 70.4 % .
  • For my sprinkle medley, I used rainbow jimmies, sugar pearls, chocolate jimmies, and tiny round rainbow sprinkles.
  • To decorate the piped border, I used a medium pastry bag and pastry tip 1M.
  • You can make the chocolate cake layers up 2 days ahead, wrapped tight in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature, or up to two weeks ahead wrapped tight and frozen. Thaw in refrigerator and then bring to room temperature.
  • Keep decorated cake in refrigerator for up to 2 days, but serve at room temperature.

Good luck & enjoy!

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Lemon Meringue Milkshakes & Mini Swirl Meringues

If you hear a muffled cry for help or cake, it’s likely me from under the endless boxes and stacks of stuff I’ve been getting ready to move in a few weeks. This is the first time we’ve ever moved a full house-load of things, and after 5 years of collecting cake tools, baking supplies, cake pedestals, food props, little girls’ toys, and more (oh, so much more), I may not make it out unscathed. And the thing is, when you’re in the thick of a move and the peak of the hot summer months, creating fancy cakes isn’t as likely as I would have hoped, but that doesn’t mean delightful desserts aren’t possible and, if anything, they’re more necessary than ever.

I recently received this irresistible book, Milkshake Bar by Hanna Miles, and it hit me–milkshakes are where I need to be right now, and vice versa. This book is filled with so much chilly inspiration (think creamy, jelly-filled Doughnut Floats served with a skewer of mini doughnuts; sweet and sponge-candy-topped Honeycomb Shakes; and refreshing, bright and bubbly Raspberry Ripple Floats) that can come to be in just moments–a concept that is much-welcomed in my world right now.

After first flip through the book, I was immediately drawn to the creamy & sunshiney awesomeness that is the Lemon Meringue Milkshake. It seems that my dessert-choices have been colour-driven lately, and bright yellow has my heart these days. And, as you probably remember, I have a real thing for lemony desserts (such as these and this), and since I always have Lemon Curd in my freezer, this recipe was super-simple to make.

What’s funny is that I made these meringues the day before with the intention to blog something totally different (which I will still do), so when I saw the recipe for the Lemon Meringue Milkshake called for a mini meringue topper, I knew it was all meant to be. To make life easier, you could certainly buy some mini meringues to top yours with, but if you do have the time to make these, they are incredible on their own and really satisfy the need for a little hit of sugar–2 for the shakes and 43 for you to innocently sneak, one-by-one, from the airtight container in which they happily sit. Makes good sense, right?

Made with whole milk, ice cream, lemon curd and lemon yogurt, this milkshake is a chilly creamy, dreamy, lemon confection that is sure to hit the sweet spot. ♥ And okay, okay–I did intentionally coordinate Nevie’s jumper with the milkshake, but I simply couldn’t resist!

Here’s the recipe:

Lemon Meringue Milkshakes          {click to print}

 

 

 

 

shared with permission, as written in the book Milkshake Bar by Hanna Miles

Lemon Meringue

3 tablespoons lemon curd

300 ml/1-1/4 cups lemon yogurt

3 scoops lemon or vanilla ice cream

300 ml/1-1/4 cups milk, chilled

2 mini meringues

2 soda glasses, chilled

2 straws

a squeezy bottle of piping bag with a small round nozzle tip

SERVES 2

Put two tablespoons of the lemon curd in a squeezy bottle or piping bag and pipe a lemon spiral onto the inside of each glass.

Put the yogurt, ice cream, milk and remaining tablespoon of lemon curd in a blender and whizz until smooth.

Pour into the prepared glasses and top each with a meringue. Serve immediately with straws and a spoon to eat the meringue.

Sweetapolita’s Notes

  • I typically have this Lemon Curd in my freezer at all times, because it’s such an easy way to add sunshine to any dessert, frosting, ice cream or even drink. You don’t need to thaw it, just pull what you need and it quickly softens back up.
  • You could certainly simplify the process by using store-bought lemon curd and prepared mini meringues (if you’re lucky enough to find those in the shops near you).
  • After pouring the milkshakes and topping with the meringue, they actually kept really nicely while I photographed Neve with hers, so if you’re preparing for a group at a luncheon or party, they should present nicely, even after you prepare an entire tray of them.
  • For my mini meringues, I used the Swiss Meringue method (heating the sugar and egg whites to 140°F, then whipping until reaches stiff peaks), but you could prepare the meringues any way you’re used to or prefer. You could simplify this process by creating pure white meringues, rather than the swirl variety.
Here’s the recipe for the meringues, and although this would be a lot of work for serving a couple of milkshakes, these are crispy, melt-in-your-mouth confections that you can serve by the platter-full and they would be gobbled up in seconds. They also make delightful cupcake toppers and cake decorations. I’ve also been told that they taste particularly Keep them at room-temperature in an airtight container.

Mini Swirl Meringues

 

 

 

 

Yield: ~45 1-inch round mini meringue swirls

Ingredients

3 egg whites (approximately 90 grams/3 ounces)

3/4 cup (150 grams/5 ounces) sugar

A drop of Americolor Electric Yellow  (or colour/shade of your choice)

One Decorating Bag, 14-Inch or 18-inch

Pastry tip #1A 

Small paintbrush

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease.

2. Add egg whites and sugar to the mixer bowl and fit onto the top of a medium saucepan filled with about 1-inch of simmering (not boiling) water. (Be sure the bottom of your bowl is not touching the water.) Whisk constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

3. Dry the underside of the mixer bowl and transfer to your stand mixer. Whip using the whisk attachment until the meringue is thick and glossy and has reached the stiff peak stage.

4. While the meringue is whipping in the mixer, fit your decorating bag with a plain round pastry tip. Fold over a cuff at the top of the pastry bag and paint 3, equally-spaced, thin lines of yellow gel colour using your fine paint brush (you can use any paint brush, but it should only be one you designate for food) from the pastry tip up toward the cuff.

5. Fill the bag with your meringue (no more than 2/3 full) and pipe small swirls onto your lined baking sheets, spacing them about 1-inch apart.

6. Bake at 200°F for 60 minutes, rotating the trays after 30 minutes. Lower the oven to 175°F and bake until dry, about 40 minutes more.

I’ll see you soon with some birthday-themed blogging!

Good luck & enjoy!



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Highway to Heaven Cupcakes {and Sugar Cube Winner!}

Happy Monday!

Here is the winner of the The Sugar Cube: 50 Deliciously Twisted Treats from the Sweetest Little Food Cart on the Planet book giveaway:

#8 NanaBread (Jeanne): “dark chocolate & salted caramel is at the top of my list, along with coconut & chocolate, strawberry & cream cheese, and anything with cherries”

Congratulations! (I will be also notifying you by email.)

And thank you to everyone for sharing their favourite flavour combinations!

See you soon. ♥

The Giveaway:

When I was asked to be part of the Sugar Cube Blog Tour to celebrate the newly released The Sugar Cube: 50 Deliciously Twisted Treats from the Sweetest Little Food Cart on the Planet, it sounded like my kind of party, but I hadn’t heard of the book or the adorable Portland, Oregon food cart before. But, upon first glance I fell in fast love with everything about Kir Jensen’s delicious sugared world, and after first read and taste, the book is now in my leave-it-out-because-I-use-it-so-much collection. I had such a hard time deciding what to make first, and what to share with you, but when I set eyes on Highway to Heaven Cupcakes adorned with shards of Ruffles and read that she’s built her entire reputation on this particular cupcake, I knew that these had to be my first Sugar Cube experience.

So what’s this book all about (aside from its undeniably adorable cover)?

This covetable cookbook is a greatest-hits collection from Sugar Cube, a tiny pink food cart in Portland, Oregon, that is thronged daily by hungry hordes craving voluptuous sweets intensified with a spike of booze, a lick of sea salt, or a “whoop” of whipped cream. Sugar Cube founder and baker Kir Jensen left the fine-dining pastry track to sell her handmade treats on the street. Recipes for 50 of Kir’s most enticing cupcakes, cookies, tarts, muffins, sips, and candies are made more irresistible (if possible!) by 32 delicious color photographs. Sassy headnotes and illustrations that resemble vintage tattoos liven up this singular boutique baking book.

And they do not lie–this book is everything they say it is, and more. It is really special. What I love is how Kir really pushes the boundaries of classic and comforting treats in a gourmet and innovative way (think Vanilla Bean Risotto, Coffee Mallow Meringue Pie, Cream Soda Ice Cream and more). The recipes are easy to follow and the flavors and textures almost leap straight off of the page. I am sincerely excited to make each and every recipe in her fabulous book, and I’m also excited that 1 lucky reader will win their own copy! But, let’s talk more about the recipe I made to share with you, these Highway to Heaven Cupcakes . . .

But don’t be fooled: What makes these cupcakes so incredible isn’t just the fact that there are salted caramel drizzled Ruffles chips on top, because that’s simply an added bonus (a sweet & salty, crunchy, heavenly bonus, that is), because there’s so much more depth and decadence to relish in here. The cupcakes are a moist super-chocolatey delight that are brushed with coffee syrup, injected with homemade salted caramel sauce, topped with a rich sexy bittersweet ganache, drizzled with more salted caramel sauce and then, if you love double-wowing the crowd, spears of caramel-drizzled potato chips, of course. As far as cupcakes go, it just doesn’t get any sexier.

These were so enticing in all of their dark, glossy, drizzled, crunchy goodness that I couldn’t stop taking Instagram photos while I was making them. When you’re trying to decide where to start in the flurry of decadent treats in this book, I can safely say this is an ideal place to start. (It’s also safe to say I’ll be making these cupcakes at least *once a month* for years to come.) Girls, who’s with me?

Here are the details and how to enter this giveaway:

1. Leave a comment and tell me, “What is your favourite dessert flavour combination?”

2. For an extra entry, tweet: “I want to win a copy of @TheSugarCube’s book from @Sweetapolita!” Simply come back here and leave a comment telling me you tweeted.

3. Contest ends Sunday, May 20th, 2012 at 11:59 pm (EST) and winner will be selected using random.org and notified by email and announced here on the blog. You must leave a valid email address (will not be displayed) in your entry.

4. One entry per person, please (or two, with tweet). *Your comment may not appear at first, but it’s there.

*Prize courtesy of Chronicle Books. Contest is open to US and Canadian residents only.

Good luck, everyone!

Now, here’s the recipe, shared with permission and as written in the book: The Sugar Cube: 50 Deliciously Twisted Treats from the Sweetest Little Food Cart on the Planet

highway to heaven cupcakes

makes 24 cupcakes

ingredients

cupcakes

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups warm strong-brewed coffee or french-pressed coffee
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil

coffee syrup

  • 1/2 cup strong-brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 recipe sexy bittersweet chocolate ganache

1 recipe salted caramel sauce, at room temperature

instructions

  • To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
  • Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, coffee, eggs, vanilla, and vegetable oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk just until incorporated and there are no lumps. (It’s a thin batter, but it will bake up beautifully.)
  • Divide the batter equally among the muffin cups, leaving about 1/4 inch room at the top. Bake until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • To make the coffee syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the coffee and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil for 1 to 2 minutes more to concentrate the mixture.
  • While the cupcakes are still hot, brush the tops with coffee syrup. (You’ll use most but not all of it. Just discard the rest or use it in a cocktail.) Let the cupcakes cool completely before filling and frosting.
  • Place the caramel in a squeeze bottle. Insert the tip into the top of each cupcake and squeeze in some caramel. (You’ll see them plump up a bit, but don’t fill them with so much that the cupcakes split.) Dip the tops in ganache, then tilt to shake off the excess. Let the chocolate set (it will be glossy but not runny) for about 30 minutes before drizzling with more salted caramel to serve.

sexy bittersweet ganache

makes about 2 cups

ingredients

  • 12 ounces chopped good-quality bittersweet chocolate
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, but into cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoons good sea salt, such as fleur de sel
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup

instructions

  • In a medium metal bowl, combine the chocolate, butter, salt, and corn syrup. Put the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and heat, stirring, until the chocolate and butter have melted. Remove from the heat.
  • Use as a glaze for cakes, or let cool until spreadable and use as a frosting or filling. Ganache can be refrigerated for 1 week. To gently rewarm, heat it in a microwave on 50 percent power or put it over a saucepan of barely simmering water and give it a good whisking.

salted caramel sauce

makes about 2 1/2 cups

ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel
  • 2 cups heavy cream, warmed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

instructions

  • In a deep heavy-bottomed pot, combine the sugar, water, and salt and stir until well mixed. Cook over high heat until the sugar starts to color around the edges of the pot, swirling the pan to promote even caramelization of the sugar. (Do not stir or the sugar will crystalize, that is, harden.) Continue cooking, swirling occasionally, until the caramel is very dark mahogany is color and lightly smoking (it should be on the verge of burning), 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Immediately remove the pot from the heat, and while stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon, add the warmed cream in a steady stream. (Since you’re taking the caramel to the dark side, you have to work quickly and being adding the cream right away to stop the cooking process. But you don’t want to add it all at once, so pour it in a continous, steady stream. Be careful: The mixture will steam and bubble up furiously. (I recommend wearing an oven mitt on the hand that’s stirring in the cream.) Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Stir in the vanilla and let cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour. Refrigerate, uncovered for several hours to thicken.
  • Whisk before using or transferring to an airtight jar for longer storage. It will keep refrigerated for at least 1 week.

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • I followed the recipes for each of the components exactly, and they were a success.
  • I served and tasted several of these sans potato chips, and just drizzeld in the caramel sauce, and they were incredible too.
  • As with some of my other favourite chocolate cake recipes, the coffee in these cupcakes simply enhances the deep chocolate flavour–they don’t taste coffee-ish, I promise.
  • As Kir explains, the sexy bittersweet ganache goes on super glossy and dries with a nice sheen.
  • I used Fleur de Sel for the salted caramel sauce and the sexy bittersweet ganache, Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder for the cupcakes, and Callebaut Dark Callets and the ganache.

Good luck & enjoy!


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